Customer Reviews


185 Reviews
5 star:
 (56)
4 star:
 (39)
3 star:
 (28)
2 star:
 (27)
1 star:
 (35)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stranger than fiction / A wild and crazy ride / Of a sad liar
Many reviews of Blood Will Out make this point, but it can't be stressed enough that this was one crazy story. I knew nothing of Clark Rockefeller before I read this, and if you are looking for a detailed history of the criminal case this probably isn't the book for you. But Kirn does an excellent job of describing what it was like to be taken in by a con man, and it...
Published 5 months ago by S. Goldstein

versus
122 of 143 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and self-indulgent
I bought this book after hearing Walter Kirn interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air." I was looking forward to an in-depth look at someone with a serious personality disorder and worldview deeply out of step with reality. I expected this to be about the subject's issues; I did not expect the author's neuroses and self-absorption completely overshadow the murderer. I am...
Published 5 months ago by Julia S.


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

122 of 143 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and self-indulgent, March 17, 2014
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
I bought this book after hearing Walter Kirn interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air." I was looking forward to an in-depth look at someone with a serious personality disorder and worldview deeply out of step with reality. I expected this to be about the subject's issues; I did not expect the author's neuroses and self-absorption completely overshadow the murderer. I am not at all surprised Walter Kirn was taken in by "Clark Rockefeller", as Mr. Kirn's exceptional cluelessness seems to beg to be taken advantage of. My goodness, he graduated from Princeton but my goodness, he did not fit in, but in case you forget, he graduated from Princeton and my goodness, has rubbed shoulders with ALL SORTS OF WEALTHY PEOPLE. Golly gee whiz! It's no wonder he falls for the extremely unlikely circumstances in his VERY FIRST CONVERSATION with "Clark Rockefeller"-- but not surprising to this reader. And it just gets worse from there. (But oh, the author mentions AGAIN he graduated from Princeton.)

The first chapter, of the bringing of a seriously disabled dog via pick-up truck 2000 miles from Montana to New York City, was excruciating for this reader: did it never occur to him that a dog with a spinal injury might have issues with urination and defecation? And did it never occur to him that long-distance driving with such an animal might be challenging? But thankfully, his mother comes to his rescue and....

Even if you really, really really think there's more in this than you can get out of a Wikipedia article, rest assured, you'll find plenty of copies remaindered, at used book sales, and in the free bin at your local library. I feel terribly misled by NPR's interview, and I'm sorry I spent the money on a hardback copy of this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


51 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The longest humblebrag I've ever read, March 24, 2014
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
Do you know what a humblebrag is? It's when someone boasts about his status or activities while pretending to be self-effacing. For example: 'I have nothing to wear to the Oscars!' or 'The worst thing about climbing Mt. Everest is that I can't get a phone signal.'

Walter Kirn has pulled off not a one-line humblebrag but a 250-page one. In relating his relationship with a con man--whom we first met in Mark Seal's superior 'The Man in the Rockefeller Suit'--he never lets us forget that he's a rural Midwestern boy who wound up in the Ivy League and later befriended some kind of alleged American aristocrat who took him into his world...only to be exposed as yet another fool (albeit one who marries a movie star's daughter and gets to hang out with George Clooney too, among other unabashedly out-of-place details) when the guy turned out to be a serial liar, thief, kidnapper and, ultimately, murderer. What I thought would provide a satisfying ending to the unfinished story in Seal's book (at the time, the murder trial had not taken place) turned out to be a self-indulgent step back as we skim the surface of 'Clark Rockefeller's' rise and fall. If this is what hanging out with rich snobs does to a person, I'll just stay home and watch Netflix. One star.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stranger than fiction / A wild and crazy ride / Of a sad liar, March 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
Many reviews of Blood Will Out make this point, but it can't be stressed enough that this was one crazy story. I knew nothing of Clark Rockefeller before I read this, and if you are looking for a detailed history of the criminal case this probably isn't the book for you. But Kirn does an excellent job of describing what it was like to be taken in by a con man, and it was realy interesting to read about what it was like to see the onetime object of Kirn's admiration completely fall apart. As an aside, Kirn himself seems to have led quite an interesting life! I'd like to know more about him - hobnobbing with Kennedys, married to Lois Lane's daughter… I'm waiting for his biography!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars TAKES UP WHERE MARK SEAL'S BOOK LEFT OFF, March 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
I preordered this book because I had seen both Mark Seal and Walter Kirn on the CBS 48 Hours story on Clark Rockefeller last year and thought they could contribute to the confusion surrounding this very strange man.

I read Mark Seal's book, The Man In The Rockefeller Suit, and loved it. So well written. So informative. It drew you in immediately. Wrote a review on amazon.

The first thing I do when I get a book is look at the author's photo on the back cover. That is if I am not familiar with him/her. I was shocked that the author would choose such a, sorry to say, creepy photo of himself for all to see. Why didn't his Editor talk him out of it? Right away I knew this book was not going to be along the lines of Mark Seal's writing of the story.

On Page 10 he informs us that he married the teen-aged daughter of actress Margot Kidder and writerTom McGuane. He is in his 30's at the time of the marriage.

This 'adventure' meeting Clark Rockefeller begins in Montana when he volunteers to drive all the way to NYC to deliver a crippled dog to the couple. Why?! Well, it appears his mother-in-law, Margot, has gone off the rails and has come to where they live in Montana and drives HIM off the rails emotionally. So he jumps at the chance to get the heck out of Dodge.

He mentions, early on, that he takes Ritalin. Now that may seem odd to someone who assumes this is for young kids. There is logic in all this. Mr. Kirn was brought up Mormon. I lived with a Mormon family in Utah for some time and discovered that many young people are on Ritalin. Many of their mothers are on Prozac. Many of the men are --- well, let's skip that one.

After reading the book from cover-to-cover last night and into this morning, I came away with many observations. Walter Kirn seems to have a female problem. It began with his mother and continued through marriage, divorce, affairs, etc. He felt comfortable with Clark Rockefeller because Clark had a HUGE female problem.

The book makes clear that Mr. Kirn was made to feel 'less than' by wealthy Yankee school mates. Again, I learned the year I was in SLC that close-knit Mormons have difficulty relating to non-Mormons. Their life is so regulated that meeting people who are free as the wind in all areas scares them. At least that was how they reacted to me. However, they are kindness personified. I can see how Kirn was attracted to Rockefeller. He was edgy. Not out there, WAY out there. Many of my Mormon friends were big science fiction fans. New Age is alive and well in Utah, I found. That surprised me, although I don't know why.

On Page 59 he writes; "We call our worried mothers too often, no longer to spring exciting news on them-that season is over, and perhaps not missed. But to re-play a skirmish with the ex-wife or get advice on what to tell a child who's been caught viewing hard-core Internet porn." Excuse me?! Why on earth would you put that in a book for millions of people to read? Did he mean one of HIS children? Was it HIS Internet porn site? No explanation.

This book, as many other reviewers have already written, is mostly about the author. He gets lost a lot. Can't follow maps. Runs over animals and one of his children. The dog died, the child, thankfully, survived. He has drug/drinking problems. He is fascinated with famous people. Well, he did marry a famous couple's daughter, didn't he?

This would have been an excellent magazine story for New York Magazine, Vanity Fair or The New Yorker. It is NOT a book. Unfortunately, Mark Seal's book is far more interesting and much better written. They both, it seems, write for Vanity Fair magazine. Seal's book came out before the murder trial. Kirn covers the trial at the end of the book. He knew Clark Rockefeller for years and yet mentions in the book many times that he doesn't remember what they ate, what they said, etc. Right. He sits behind Rockefeller at his murder trial. At one point his teen-aged daughter joins him.

At the end of the book (by this time it was 4:30AM) he claims to have used Clark all those years in order to write an interesting book. There is no way on earth I would have suffered through 20 minutes with this man, muchless incident after incident. He doesn't pay, ever, in a restaurant. He makes Kirn sleep in sub-zero cold on a flimsy bed when visiting him out East. And on and on and on. By the middle of the book you simply don't care anymore. I willed myself to finish it. Cup after cup of black Stumptown coffee. I closed the book, sighed deeply, and went to sleep very disappointed. I pre-ordered the book long ago and was so anxious to read it. Such a letdown.

Perhaps being around Clark Rockefeller brought him down emotionally. Rockefeller is a dark, sad, sick man. I cannot imagine carrying out a friendship with him for so many years without becoming just as depressed. This is not a feel good experience. Just read the book. Your take on it may be the opposite of mine. I just expected too much, I guess.

Mark Seal should have postponed launching his book until the murder trial was finished. I hope he writes something in Vanity Fair magazine about this, if he hasn't already. Blood Will Out was a let down. It lacked the soul Mark Seal's story had.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, April 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
I was so looking forward to reading this story. I mean, what an absolutely fascinating tale. How did this man get away with deluding everyone for so long? Why did he start? Why did he commit murder? Unfortunately, the author makes this book all about himself rather than his subject. If you want to read about Walter Kirn's troubles with drugs and wives and insecurity, you'll be happy enough. However, if you were hoping to read about the con artist/kidnapper/murderer you may have thought this book was about, you will be disappointed. I started getting disillusioned about halfway through, and was just plain irritated when I finished. Shame on this self-indulgent, narcissistic author.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kirn's chilling memoir offers a disturbing reminder that our capacity for self-deception is nearly limitless, March 26, 2014
By 
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
July 2008 brought one of those strange stories that seem to surface each year to interrupt our summer torpor, as the media reported that a man known as Clark Rockefeller was wanted for the kidnapping of his seven-year-old daughter in Boston. When the police caught up with him in Baltimore, they soon discovered their quarry didn't occupy even a remote branch on the tree of the prominent American business and political family. Instead, he was a German immigrant named Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, whose tangled life story yielded more questions than answers.

That incident inspired Amity Gaige's 2013 novel, SCHRODER. Now, novelist (UP IN THE AIR, MISSION TO AMERICA) and journalist (LOST IN THE MERITOCRACY) Walter Kirn has fleshed out Rockefeller/Gerhartsreiter's bizarre past in this complex, troubling and, above all, self-revealing account of his 10-year friendship with the serial imposter, someone Kirn thought of as "a singular figure in my life and a subject of frequent contemplation."

If ever a friendship started under unusual circumstances, it was this one. In the summer of 1998, Kirn, married and living on a heavily mortgaged Montana ranch with his first child on the way, was enlisted to transport a crippled Gordon setter to Rockefeller, who had purchased the dog online from acquaintances of Kirn’s wife. From their first encounter in New York, when Rockefeller, a self-described "freelance central banker," proposed an after-hours tour of Rockefeller Center ("the family's place") that never materialized and invited his new friend to his apartment (next door to Tony Bennett's, he said) to show off his collection of Rothkos and Motherwells, the relationship, in Kirn’s mind, was never one of equals.

But Clark's lies weren't limited to non-existent jobs or works of art that turned out to be fakes; he also claimed friendships with an absurdly large and diverse collection of celebrities, from Britney Spears to Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In 2002, Kirn visited Clark's ramshackle farmhouse in Cornish, New Hampshire, hometown of J.D. Salinger, where Rockefeller dangled the prospect of introducing Kirn to the reclusive novelist. When Kirn offhandedly mentioned a problem with the IRS, Rockefeller handed over what he said was then-President George Bush's private phone number (a number Kirn never dared to try).

Even at his best, Rockefeller's creepiness seemed to have outweighed his charm. Despite finding Clark "instantly annoying" and despite the implausibility of just about everything the man said, even after the 2008 kidnapping, Kirn was willing, for a time, to suspend his disbelief. Whether that credulousness resulted from his awe at his friend's pedigree, or the fact that for a time they had shared the status of divorced fathers, he eventually concedes his involvement in an "unbalanced, insulting relationship that had gone on too long and grown disfiguring."

By the time Kirn found himself covering Rockefeller's 2013 Los Angeles trial for a 1985 murder (committed while he had assumed yet another identity as a minor British aristocrat) that involved burying the victim's dismembered body in plastic bags, any empathy he may have felt for his one-time friend had been burned away. Possessed of that emotional freedom, Kirn crisply describes a case in which "not only was the evidence circumstantial, so was the defendant," as a parade of other self-deceived witnesses took the stand while Rockefeller watched, seemingly detached (as one might expect from a man so adept at shedding his identity only to assume a new one) from the often grisly narrative unfolding before him. Kirn connects Rockefeller's story to novels like Patricia Highsmith's THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, concluding, somewhat melodramatically, that Rockefeller, also a fan of film noir, "killed for literature."

Visiting Clark in jail after his murder conviction, Kirn found him "still portraying the man I'd known, a patrician Lotos Club member, unceremoniously displaced." But the act of producing this book afforded Kirn a certain measure of revenge against his deceiver, as he admits he'd considered writing about Rockefeller when they'd met, but had abandoned that plan "in deference to our friendship." Given the foundation of duplicity on which their relationship had been constructed, he doesn't find that about-face at all troubling: "Writers exist to exploit such figures," he concludes. "Our duty is to the page, not the person."

Kirn's self-portrait suggests a judgment on himself that’s almost as harsh as the one the justice system rendered against Clark Rockefeller, a man who, from the first, was more a construct than a human being. "Rationalizing, justifying, imagining," he writes, "I'd worked as hard at being conned by him as he had at conning me. I wasn't a victim; I was a collaborator." While few of us will ever encounter the sort of sociopath Kirn portrays here with such precision, his chilling memoir offers a disturbing reminder that our capacity for self-deception is nearly limitless.

Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The liar is us, March 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
This fascinating book is deceptive - it is not really, as the title may indicate, the story of the liar Clark Rockefeller. Rather, it is the story of how Rockefeller turned the author, Walter Kirn, into a liar to himself. By successfully decoding what makes Kirn tick, Rockefeller convinced him to believe, or at least accept, the most outrageous deceptions. Were this told from a third-person perspective, it would be merely another 'Lifetime' sob story. Instead, Kirn catalogs his own vanities, insecurities, and deeply hidden desires, all with radical honesty. A lesser book, and less honest explorer of his own psyche, would hide attempt to mask these deep, albeit common, character flaws. Instead, the author names them for what they are and then shows exactly how Rockefeller turned them to his advantage.

Blood Will Out lays bare the essential fact that we all trade in the currency of casual lies, told and believed, in order to help us believe that we, our lives, and our friends, are more magical than they really are. It is a fundamental vulnerability in human nature, and Kirn exposes it in the only way possible - by exposing it in himself. This could be a brutal experience, were it not for the wit and precision of the writing, and the essential empathy of the narrative.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it. What troubles me most, is that I can't honestly say that I would see the liar in Rockefeller - but I'm pretty sure that Rockefeller would see the liar in me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangers on a mystery train, March 12, 2014
By 
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
A triumph of style and substance, Blood Will Out proves a confident and relaxed, yet rigorous, narrative. Kirn's riveting account of a flukey, decades-long friendship with a dangerous sociopath is a high-wire act that somehow never feels like a performance, more of a fun and finely calibrated confessional. Kirn effortlessly ticks all the "Stranger Beside Me"-style True Crime boxes, then sails way beyond the genre into realms poetic, elegiac, contemplative, bittersweet and redemptive.

In Clark Rockefeller, Kirn presents a new kind of killer -- one who appropriates bits and pieces of American pop culture to adorn and justify his crimes, amuse himself and perplex others. One of his touchstones is "Strangers On a Train," and the fateful connection between Clark and Kirn finds the two men locked in a Hitchcockian danse macabre that lends this tale a chilling heft. Out of the vicissitudes of their tense, peculiar twosome, Kirn teases out insights into assimilation, anxiety, parenthood, class and identity that are by turns comedic, savage, melancholy, ironic - and always illuminating. Throughout, he digs deep, excavating private demons, obsessive doubts and painful self-revelation. Most powerfully, by the end one feels one has gotten to know both "Clark Rockefeller" and Walter Kirn - one more masterful illusion. And for all its dark humor, the book is in the end (to quote Clark) devastating.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writer, excellent powers of observation, April 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
Some of the negative reviews of this book have commented that it is more about Kirn than Rockefeller. There is some truth to this. However, it would be more accurate to say that it was more about their relationship than Rockefeller. Also, what would be the point of writing a straightforward book about Rockefeller himself? This has already been done on multiple occasions and by Kirn's own acknowledgement, done quite well. The book was written specifically because of Kirn's unique interactions with him. I also think that Kirn himself comes off somewhat badly in the book in terms of what his "friendship" with Rockefeller says about Kirn himself and I have little doubt that but for Rockefeller's supposed last name, the "friendship" would never have lasted. Of course, in fairness, Kirn is hardly self-exculpatory about his actions--to the contrary, he is extremely hard on himself about it.

I would have given the book 5 stars just because I think that Kirn is such a wonderful writer and has such incredible powers of observation and analysis. There were a few things that bothered me however, which, cumulatively, added up to the loss of a star. First, as a few others have noted, the book is like a chronological pinball--it bounces all over the place. Forwards, backwards, forwards again, endlessly. To some extent, I see the reason for this, because it is in part about reflection on the past and it was never intended as a straight-ahead murder mystery. Still, I thought it was a bit excessive. Second, I didn't really like the way Kirn went into fairly detailed plot summaries of movie after movie after movie (with a few tv shows and books thrown in for good measure). I felt that the book dragged at these points. Finally, he has an odd capacity for simultaneous self-flagellation and self-congratulation. For every time he has one of this "how could I be so stupid as to be sucked in by this guy" moments, there is another where he reminds us (and possibly himself) of his gilded resume, including Princeton (seemingly 1000 mentions), Oxford (ditto), being a published novelist whose books have been made into movies, a magazine cover story writer, etc. etc. I understand the desire to point out this odd juxtaposition at least once but it seems that he did so repeatedly. Still, on balance, I certainly recommend the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read, March 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (Hardcover)
A fascinating study of a poseur, charlatan, criminal, murderer, and malignant personality, all rolled into one. Kirn is a gifted writer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade
$25.95 $16.41
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.